Our church is working hard on ways to foster community, create connections, and build intergenerational relationships. Recent research has shown that “vertical” (intergenerational) relationships are one of the crucial things a church can provide in a culture that increasingly isolates people by age….and the same research has also shown that children and youth that have these vertical relationships are more likely to continue growing in faith throughout their lives. As a church family we seek to support children, youth, families, parents, and college students as you/they grow in faith and travel their life journey, and also to remember that the older can learn from the younger just as much as the other way around. One way we plan to do this is to create a prayer partner system.
Each year (this year on October 17, the national children’s sabbath) we hope to have a sort of “reverse offering” in which people can take a piece of paper containing the name of a child, youth, or college student in our congregation. People will be invited to pray for that person, and their family, throughout the rest of the school year. They will also be encouraged, if they wish, to contact the person or family for particular prayer requests, to let them know they’re being prayed for, to send care packages, or to invite them to participate in worship or mission together. In this way we hope to build connections across generations, creating a true “family” of the church, where each person has extra grandparents or aunts and uncles or even extra parents—people who pray and encourage and help and love and challenge and serve. We also hope to further our connection to our baptismal vows–that together we will love, nurture, and challenge our young people as they grow in faith.
Each slip of paper in this reverse offering will have, inside, the name of a child, youth, or college student, as well as that person’s parents’ names. On the outside will be the person’s age. Contact information will not be listed, but prayer partners will be encouraged to look up that information in the church directory in order to let people know they are being prayed for, to ask for prayer requests or joys to celebrate, to offer encouragement or invitations or mission opportunities or other relationship building options as the partner feels comfortable. Not every person who takes a name will call regularly, not all will invite their partner to things, but hopefully all will at least let the partners know who they are so they can send particular prayer requests or joys to celebrate. We also encourage prayer partners to sit together in worship and to serve together in mission whenever possible. We don’t plan to administer this “program” in a structured way—it’s up to each partner to pray and to nurture relationship in ways they feel God calling them to.
So in two weeks’ time, you’ll be invited to take a name (or two) and become a prayer partner. We hope that everyone will participate in this important ministry opportunity, as we seek to support and nurture one another, to grow in grace, and to continue to become a family together.